Category Archives: Church

Update and Back in Minneapolis

Map copyWell, unfortunately, we didn’t do a great job of blogging, as we had hoped to per our last blog, as we traveled 3,000 miles around the Midwest speaking during the last few weeks of September. Sorry about that.

So, to sum up our travels, Kristin and I have said over and over again that it went so much better than we expected! We expected to have a wonderful time with family, friends, and supporters as we traveled through MI, seeing family and friends in IN and KY, and then traveling up to WI to see more friends, supporters, and family in Monroe, Janesville, Appleton, Franksville, and Dunbar. And we did have such a wonderful and encouraging time with the people we visited and spoke with. Unfortunately, there were still so many more people we would have loved to see as we travel through the above places, but time and schedules just don’t always work out. (For those of you we weren’t able to see as we traveled through MI, IN, KY, and WI, please feel free to see us in MN, if you come this way sometime during the Fall and early Winter!)

But we didn’t expect our little 2 year and 4 month old little child to do as well as he did. Over the course of the three weeks, God was so gracious and answered our prayers as well as so many of you who have told us that you were praying especially for Charlie. Charlie really came out of his shell and was pretty extroverted (for Charlie) and warmed up and became comfortable with meeting new people, being left with new people, and sleeping in new places (6 in all)! So, that was a huge praise to God for us, and we come back to Minneapolis feeling encouraged and loved by the people we saw and so thankful to God for how this little guy who has traveled more than 10,000 miles through the air and on the ground over the last month has done and faired!!

Now, we wait with baited breath for the arrival of baby boy #2 sometime in the later part of October (October 27th is the due date). Please be praying for Kristin and the baby as they finish the final month of pregnancy and for Charlie as he adjusts to, Lord willing, being a big brother.

We will pretty much be around the Twin Cities till the middle of November. Please, if you are in this area, feel free to contact us, and we would love to see you!

Driving to Pastor Njovu’s House (Video)

Below is another dash cam video of me and Pastor John Chitambo going to visit another CROSS Project Pastor at his home – Pastor Njovu. Pastor Njovu and his church finished going through the CROSS Project lessons back in December of 2013 and graduated.

Pastor Njovu lives in an area of Lusaka, known as Chazanga, which is on the North side of Lusaka right off Great North Road. It’s an area that is fast developing as more and more people come in from the rural areas outside of Lusaka to live in the city as worldwide urbanization marches forward. I chose the song, “Funkytown” by the band Lipps Inc. to be the background music. I thought it was appropriate in regards to so many people wanting to move to Lusaka, since this song is about how the band wants to move and has dreams of moving from Minneapolis to New York. Ouch, to those of us who call Minneapolis home! But after living through a few Minneapolis winters, I can also see why.

This video gives you an idea of what a developing area/township/compound of Lusaka looks like. Sorry for all the sun glare. If only this place didn’t have perfect sunny weather almost all year around!

HIV in Zambia video

The movie below is one that I made recently about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Zambia, Africa. The movie is a mixture of statistics and video footage that was filmed in Lusaka, Zambia in 2005 when Kristin and I were serving in Zambia for our year and a half short-term missions work with ACTION. Many thanks to Sevelino Vasco, Blake Walburg, Steve Ripley and Kristin Dearth for all taking part and helping to get the various Lusaka footage. Hopefully, over the upcoming weeks and months I will be making some more of these short videos about life in Lusaka from the footage that was gathered back in 2005.

The song that is overlaid on these statistics and footage is by Chevelle. The song has more of an edgy feel to it, and I think it is appropriate for the death and destruction that HIV/AIDS leaves in its wake in Zambia every day. In the lyrics to the song, if you think of the “red” as being AIDS, the song touches very effectively on the denial, silence, fear, and isolation that many Zambians feel everyday that are HIV positive or in the later stages of AIDS.

Our prayer is that the Lord will work mightily in and through the Church in Zambia to break the culture of fear, denial, silence and isolation that surrounds people with HIV/AIDS; that Christ would shine forth as the mighty, merciful, all-sufficient Savior that He is, no matter what the circumstances are; and that the Body, the Church, would reach out to those suffering and care for them and love them, just as Christ loved us and loves us with the disease that we all have, sin.

Saying "your’re called to that." by Job Acuff

“A friend of the family adopted a baby a few years ago. He and his wife are Caucasian and the baby is African American, so occasionally they get asked interesting questions. I believe his favorite one to answer is, “What country did you adopt from?” He loves responding to this one because his answer is, “The country of Mississippi.”

There are a tremendous amount of orphans in the US and this is simply his slightly amusing away of drawing attention to the kids across the street that need to be adopted too. I was talking about adoption a few weeks ago with a different friend at dinner. I mentioned that someone I knew had adopted a special needs child from Europe. They purposely decided to adopt an older special needs child and give them a new home and a new family.

As soon as I started that story, my friend blurted out something Christians the world over say when faced with tremendous love like this, “You’re called to that.” Then he breathed a tremendous sigh of relief and went back to eating.

He was comforted by that sentence in part because of what it really means. When you hear about another Christian going off on some crazy, difficult mission for God, you get a small ping of guilt. We’re a very guilty people some times and in this particular case that guilt stems from thinking that you should also be adopting special needs kids. What are you doing right now in your life that is holy or big or adventurous? Nothing? Better throw out that get out of jail free card, “You’re called to that.”

I think that sentence is funny because it’s not complete. When we say that, what we’re really saying is, “You’re called to that and I was not. I would totally do that. I would live in Guam with clothes woven of bamboo shoot and nurse a baby llama named “Punbar” back to health with love and applesauce if that’s what God wanted me to do, but so far, gosh darn it, he just hasn’t given me that call. I’m ready though. I am ready. I’ll get you a mission trip machete if I do end up going. You’re called to that.”

Am I wrong? Have you ever heard someone say something like this? Have you ever said it?”

Blessed Are The Poor {In Spirit}

At Bethlehem, we have a church-wide Bible memory program called “Fighter Verses.” Fighter Verses are short passages of Scripture selected to equip the believer in the fight of faith. This year, the plan is to memorize the Sermon on the Mount.

I stink at Bible memory and always want to do better. But this year, I am resolved to memorize Matthew 5:3-7:27. I have changed my Bible reading plan this year, which I am hoping and praying will make the difference in succeeding with my resolution.

Anyways, this week as I was reciting the verses, I forgot a couple words, and the difference really got me thinking. See if you can catch the words I left out (and whatever you do, DON’T look at the title of this blog!): “Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 5:3.

Just for a second, ponder if that statement was true. For starters, we Americans wouldn’t have a chance at having the kingdom of heaven. But one’s possession (or lack thereof) of riches actually has nothing to do with having the kingdom of heaven.

As the verse really goes, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To be poor in spirit has everything to do with spiritual state. Charles Finney lists several aspects of being poor in spirit: to “understand our own guilt and helplessness”; “that nearly the whole power of the sensibility continually tends to selfishness”; “a realizing conviction of being shut up to the grace of God for help”; “a conviction that we are shut up to faith in Christ as the only possible way of obtaining help”; “a deep and abiding sense of the absolute need we are in of a Savior from our utter wickedness, helpless and just condemnation”.

So, blessed are those people. Blessed, because they have found Christ as their treasure and not themselves…or their wealth (or lack thereof).

Bethlehem’s Response to Haiti’s Needs

Our Response to the Earthquake in Haiti | hopeingod.org

Charities Collecting Donations for Haiti

  1. Compassion International
  2. Feed My Starving Children
  3. Food for the Hungry
  4. World Vision
  5. World Relief
  6. Samaritan’s Purse
  7. Love a Child
  8. Northwest Haiti Christian Mission
  9. Compassion Weavers
  10. Mennonite Central Committee
  11. Water Missions International